Scout volunteer to row Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean row

A Scout volunteer, Ashley Wilson, and Scout Ambassador, James Ketchell, are attempting to become the fastest pair to row across the Indian Ocean.

Both took to the water this weekend at the Docklands Scout Project to test out their specially designed boat, 'The James Lewis', for the first time.

They will set off on the 3,600 mile adventure in April 2015 from Geraldton, Western Australia, ending their voyage in Port Louis, Mauritius. They are challenging themselves to break the world record of 86 days. The Indian Ocean is one of the least rowed oceans in the world with only 42 recorded attempts, of which 20 were successful. More people have been into space than have rowed across the Indian Ocean.

Their trip is made all the more challenging by the fact that Ashley has epilepsy. He is also in remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer affecting the lymphatic system.

Ashley was inspired to take on the challenge when he met James at a local Scouting event. James will undergo rigorous training by the charity Young Epilepsy to teach him how to care for Ashley during the voyage. Ashley says: 'I have always been a fighter and am certainly not one to ever give up. Scouting has always been supportive of me and has helped me lead a normal life no matter what medical challenges have been thrown at me.

'By attempting to row the Indian Ocean, I wanted to prove to everyone that my condition does not affect my ambition and ability to be a world record holder. Being a Scout has taught me that nothing’s impossible, no matter how bad things are or may have been.'

James has also suffered from life-changing health problems. He was once told he would not be able to continue on his active lifestyle after being injured in a motorcycle accident. Since then, he has rowed single-handed across the Atlantic Ocean, climbed Mount Everest and completed an 18,000 mile unsupported global cycle ride. 

By joining Ashley on his record breaking attempt, this is James' latest mission to demonstrate that the ability to succeed is within everyone. James says: 'I have rowed long distances before but the Indian Ocean challenge is a big one. The dynamic of rowing such a massive distance while making sure I support Ash will be a real challenge, but I am convinced that if we look after each other we can make a safe and fast crossing.'

Bear Grylls, Chief Scout, commented: 'Ashley's and James' attempt to row the Indian Ocean is a real adventure. They are setting a fantastic example to young people across the UK and demonstrating that, whatever the personal challenges you face, you can be sure that Scouting will support you on your journey.'

Ashley and James will be raising money for The Scout Association, Young Epilepsy, and the Elifar Foundation.

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